Article by Sam Riches, Growth Op
The CEO of B.C.-based licenced producer Pure Sunfarms is sounding the alarm about potency labelling practices among Canadian cannabis companies.
In a blog posted on LinkedIn, Mandesh Dosanjh says that some producers are taking a ‘static’ approach to labelling products, and the THC and CBD values displayed on the products may not be accurate for each individual batch.“One potency label is pre-printed and applied across many batches which fall within a pre-determined range to save on costs. We call this approach static labelling. Knowing very well that potency is one of the top criteria that cannabis consumers look for in making their purchase decisions, we believe this approach to labelling misleads consumers by creating a false impression about the potency of their dried flower,” Dosanjh writes. “That does not sit well with us.”
Pure Sunfarms submitted a complaint about the practice to Health Canada in February. BNN Bloomberg obtained a copy of the complaint and was the first to report on it earlier this month.
According to Bloomberg, the complaint notes that 18 separate batches of products sold under Canopy Growth’s TWD brand are labelled at 20 per cent THC, and the ‘statistical likelihood of this many lots coming back with identical test result potencies of precisely 20.0 per cent is extremely low.’
Licenced producers are required to label both the THC and CBD potency of their products. According to Dosanjh, Pure Sunfarms takes a ‘dynamic’ approach to labelling its products and produces new labels for each batch.
“Potencies are customized, individually printed, and applied to each batch of final product,” Dosanjh writes. “This is referred to as a dynamic approach to labelling, an approach that we believe provides consumers with complete clarity — they know exactly what they are getting with every purchase.”
According to the complaint, other companies may be engaged in ‘static’ labelling, where a mid-point is taken from test results and applied across multiple batches.
Dosanjh is calling on the industry, from producers to retailers, to speak up about the issue. “It’s important that we take action or risk losing consumer confidence in all regulated product,” he writes.
“This is a critical moment,” tweeted Dan Sutton, CEO of producer Tantalus Labs, in response to Bloomberg‘s article. “Kudos to Mandesh for addressing an issue that is ultimately tantamount to fraud. If @HealthCanada does not penalize this behaviour, it will signal many other bad actors to misrepresent potency for commercial gain.”
THC scores remain one of the biggest drivers of consumer purchasing but questions about the accuracy of those scores have lingered for years. A related issue is the practice of ‘lab shopping,’ where cannabis companies partner with labs that are easier to work with or assign a higher THC score to the company’s products.
A 2018 study published in Nature found systematic differences in the cannabinoid content reported by different laboratories in Washington, which became the first U.S. state to legalize recreational cannabis in 2012.